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Crocker Art Museum the longest operating in the West

SACRAMENTO — Many visitors flock to downtown Sacramento to see the variety of numerous sites and attractions our state capital has to offer. Old Sacramento with its historical feel, the K Street mall with something for everyone and the Capitol building and grounds draw people to the area.

Another highlight nestled in the downtown area is the Crocker Art Museum. Housing more than 14,000 works of art in its permanent collection, the Crocker Art Museum is the longest continuously operating art museum in the West.

Among the permanent collection, the museum offers visitors a chance to see a large collection of early California art, a collection of more than 1,400 master drawings which is one of the finest early collections in the United States, and about 1,800 pieces of international ceramics.

The museum also offers a number of visiting exhibitions each year. In September, the museum will host “Grandma Moses — Grandmother to the Nation.” This exhibit will celebrate the work of one of America’s grandest folk artists, Anna Mary Robertson (Grandma) Moses. A New York farm girl, she took up painting at the age of 79 and created more than 1,500 works before she died at 101. Grandma Moses brought the American ideal of happiness and prosperity to her canvases, and beginning Sept. 8, that happiness and prosperity will grace the main floor of the Crocker museum.

In addition to the permanent collection and visiting exhibitions, the museum has a calendar full of other activities, which include film series, concerts, drawing classes and a popular Second Saturday event for families.

To accommodate its more than 150,000 annual visitors, the Crocker Art Museum is undergoing an expansion, which will triple its size when completed in 2010.

Strolling downtown Sacramento offers a look at the house of California’s legislators amid Capital Park, a chance for a shopping experience, an opportunity to take a seat in the Imax Theatre and an art and culture experience inside Crocker Art Museum.

WHERE: 210 O St. (downtown Sacramento, near the Capitol Mall, in the block bordered by O and P streets and Second and Third)

WHEN: Tuesdays through Sundays, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; open until 9 p.m. on Thursdays

COST: Adults $6; seniors 65 and older $4; students with valid ID $3; children 6 and younger free. The museum offers free admission to all visitors every Sunday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

GETTING THERE: Take Interstate 5 to Sacramento. Take the J Street exit. Make a sharp right turn off the ramp onto Third Street. Turn right on O Street. (If you take Highway 99, take the San Francisco turnoff in Sacramento — Highway 50 — and swing onto Interstate 5 north toward Redding, then follow the above directions.)

PARKING: On-street parking meters bordering the museum and Crocker Park require 25 cents per 20 minutes. A parking lot on Second Street charges $3 per two hours.

DRIVE TIME: 1 hour, 15 minutes (MapQuest)

MORE INFORMATION: 916-264-5423, crockerartmuseum.org

Bee assistant librarian Karen Aiello can be reached at kaiello@modbee.com or 578-2392.

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